Should Jake Bentley be the Gamecocks QB next year?

Will Muschamp had his Sunday evening conference call and a reporter apparently asked him about Jake Bentley.

He’s being a great teammate. He’s helping these young quarterbacks. He’s not been able to travel with us. Our training staff has not wanted him to do that. He’s been at all of our home games, all of our practices, all of our meetings and in the training room constantly supporting our guys.

Jake has been a terrific presence here at the University of South Carolina. He is often on the honor roll and this year won the offensive player GPA of the year award.

He is also a class act. I'll never forget when the Gamecocks beat Tennessee in 2017. The Vols were on our 2 yard line with 1 second left down 6. QB Jarrett Guarantano rolled right and thought he had an open receiver moving towards the sideline. He threw it but Chris Lammons dove to break it up and secure the Gamecocks victory.

Jarrett sat on the ground and weeped into his hands. Jake was celebrating with his teammates but noticed Jarrett and was overwhelmed with compassion for the fellow QB. He ran to his side and spoke with him for a short period before another Tennessee player noticed and came over to retrieve their QB. Jarrett hugged Jake and jogged off to the locker room. We would all love our sons to grow up to be Jake Bentley.

When Coach Muschamp was asked about Jake he should have said something like "we love Jake and he's forever going to be a part of the Gamecock family. As for next year we'll discuss it once we get through this season". Instead he replied “Jake and I are very close, and he and I will sit down and have a good conversation about what’s best for him and best for South Carolina. When we have that conversation, I’ll be able to update you more.” I understand that a coach can never say a player is gone till their gone, but don't create a controversy by making it seem like he could return!

By allowing some fans to think Jake might be back you're sending mixed signals. It's like when you talk about your ex. You should probably say something nice but make it clear that you're not going to get back together with them. When you give false hope it's bad for your friends who liked your ex and of course the ex if they're interested in getting back, and most of all your current flame who now has doubts about you.

From a strictly football outlook Jake has never been an elite QB. A lot of fans had a bad taste in their mouth after the debacle of a Bowl game where we lost to Virginia 28-0 to end the 2018 season and the first game of this season where we lost to another ACC team 24-20. Jake performed very poorly in the last 2 games that he's played. However the overall picture isn't very bright either.

Total QBR stands for Total Quarterback Rating. It's supposed to be the best way to judge a QB's effectiveness in helping his team. With around 130 QB's the ones that come in ranked in the 60's would be the middle of the pack. Those QB's traditionally have a total QBR in the low 60's. The elite players would be ranked in the top 10 and their total QBR's tend to be above 80.

2016 was Jake's Freshman year. We tend to not expect much from Freshman as they have so much to learn and the game is played at a much faster lever than High School.Jake faced 3 power 5 opponents and 3 non power 5 opponents. His Total QBR was amazing in the fore mentioned Tennessee game of 75.3. His 2 other outings against power 5 schools were sub standard with a 52.1 vs Florida and a humiliating 12.6 vs Clemson. Vs Western Carolina and Umass it was 70.9 and 65.1 and a very good University of Southern Florida it was a 60.1 in the bowl loss. But again he showed signs of brilliance. Sophomore year he came in as the 45th ranked QB with a total QBR of 65.1. Last year he was the 33rd ranked QB with a total QBR of 72.9. In his only game of 2019 he a total QBR of 37.1.

So what if he came back super healthy and the receivers worked with him over the Summer to recapture the timing. Based on year over year improvements and factoring in another year of maturity it's hard to imagine him jumping from 33rd to anything above the 20's. And looking at the SEC for 2020 he would be ranked below teams on our schedule like Texas A&M's Kellen Mond, Georgia's Jake Fromm, Florida's Kyle Trask, and Clemson's Trevor Lawrence.

Ryan Hilinski is currently ranked as the 79th best with a total QBR of 55.2. He has posted that almost exclusively against SEC teams. Alabama, Mizzou, Kentucky, Georgia, Florida and Tennessee. So he's performed better than Jake in his Freshman year and we should expect him to improve next year. Also the Gamecocks have the 3rd ranked dual threat QB in the country signed for next year! Luke Doty will compete for the starting job with Ryan Hilinski!

The best thing for Jake Bentley is to play his 5th year at a power 5 program which has softer defenses. Purdue for example is struggling big time this year at QB. Jake could fix that for them with solid play against teams like Indiana and Nebraska. He'd get to play a couple of "big games" against ranked teams Michigan and Wisconsin. But mostly he would be stat padding against Rutgers and Northwestern level opponents. It's always fun to win and Purdue a very winable schedule, if they had better QB play. Plus it's Jake's best shot at showing off his skills for NFL scouts.

So in conclusion, it would be in the best interest of both Jake Bentley and the Gamecocks if he played his final season somewhere else. But I will always have a world of admiration for how he represented himself and team while here in Columbia.

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